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Undecided on crank length and handlebar width ...(6 posts)

Undecided on crank length and handlebar width ...HouseMoney
Nov 3, 2002 7:06 PM
What factors should go into determining the "proper" crank length and bar width? I've searched the archives and am still not confident in my decision. Out of all my test rides (twice each on most bikes), I decided I liked the fit & feel of the 58cm Cannondale CAAD5 but preferred the Campy shifting that was on another bike. My shop happened to have a 58cm CAAD5 frame in stock so I went with that and a Campy build kit (what my budget allowed). This also allowed me the flexibility (and confusion) of picking my sizes instead of buying off the rack.

This is my first road bike after not having one for years, so I don't have a current point of reference (I do own a mountain bike, though). I'd like to try and get it right the first time without having to swap anything out.

My shoulders measure about 17" across bone to bone (never realized how skinny I was), which the LBS said could put me at either a 42 or 44cm wide bar c-c. At his suggestion, I went with the 42, though I can change that before he puts the order in on Tuesday.

As for the cranks (my inseam is 33¾-34"), he said I could go either 172.5 or 175. Shorter if I was a spinner; longer if I used more of a power stroke. I opted for the 175's to match my mountain bike. The more I think of it, when I'm climbing on my mountain bike, I prefer to spin with a higher cadence in a lower gear. Plus, at 43 yrs old, my knees aren't what they used to be. The crankset will be a double, but I'm getting a 28 in the rear to give me a little lower gearing.

I'm almost thinking I should switch both of my original choices, and go with a 44cm handlebar and 172.5 cranks. I'm leaning in that direction on the cranks, but am totally undecided on the handlebar. Help!?

P.S. Let me know if there are any other fit factors I need to provide.
You're worrying too much.look271
Nov 3, 2002 7:17 PM
Crank length is really a matter of personal preferance. There is no good data to show that it makes a difference, so if you are used to the 175's, stick with them. As for the bar width, shoulder width is generally considered correct, so maybe I would go with the 44's. FWIW-I am 43 also and like you, a spinner not a gear masher. I have 175's and that suits me just fine, and my inseam is a tad shorter than yours. Swap the bars and go enjoy your bike!
Agreed stop worrying!PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Nov 3, 2002 8:34 PM
Since you aren't trying to squeeze every imaginable ouce of power out of your body like a rider in the tour de france fit is important but relax (no offence). I'd go with the average 172.5 crank arm length and 44 if you'd like a wider bar or 42 if you don't mind going that tiny bit narrower.

Hmm...I was just in the same predicament...jtferraro
Nov 3, 2002 8:22 PM
I was measured w/a 48cm shoulder so went w/a 44cm bar. I'm not sure if the bar is measured c-c or outside to outside, though. We have similar inseams though, as I have an 85cm inseam. Like you, I have 175mm cranks on my mtb but I chose to go w/the 172.5's on my new road bike.

Nice bike. Good luck!

trial and errorSean2
Nov 3, 2002 9:48 PM
Unfortunately, measurements like crank length and bar width are really hard to get just right using general rules. Everyones body moves differently. You may be able to apply more force to the spinning motion of the crank if you're legs move that way (it would probably take some expensive equipment to determine which length gives you best efficiency.) However, it does seem like a really good idea to identify the aspects of the varying sizes. ex: a wider bar may give you more of a feeling of control, while a narrower bar may feel tighter and stiffer - then you can decide what you want and then try out the different sizes and go from there. Enjoy 8)
re: Undecided on crank length and handlebar width ...bugleboy
Nov 4, 2002 7:40 AM
Stick with 175mm cranks. That is the standard length on a 58cm bike. I think you might feel more comfortable with 44 cm bars. Wider bars generally feel more stable.